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Engineering in K–12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects
organized into a logical sequence. The instruction is consistent with constructivist pedagogy in the sense that it asks teachers to activate prior experience, introduce new concepts, engage students in using existing knowledge in conjunction with new knowledge, employ tactile experience to support active learning, use questions for acknowledging ideas and guiding the development of new ones, and ask students to represent their ideas in multiple ways.
The curriculum and instruction is extremely Socratic in nature. Posing questions is the primary tool used to implement the teaching and learning process. Emphasis is placed on thoughtfully observing students, formulating questions based on their work, using question to access their thought processes, posing questions to leverage experience and guide the incremental develop of understandings, and using questions to reflect upon and learning experiences. In short, questions are used to encourage student to discuss, express, represent, and reflect in the interest of helping them construct understanding from their active work.
Building Structures with Young Children, clearly capitalizes on materials and supplies that early childhood teachers are likely to have in their classrooms (e.g., building blocks, craft supplies, toys representing people and animals). However, the implementation of the curriculum at the scale described in the materials could easily require more supplies and manipulatives than teachers have on hand. Therefore, implementation is likely to require additional expense for capital improvements (e.g., purchasing additional maple building blocks) and consumables (e.g., buying craft supplies).
More than half of the documentation for the program focuses on facilitating teacher training. Tremendous attention is given to informing and developing teachers’ abilities to prepare the learning environment, to observe children building, to use carefully crafted questions to uncover thought processes and guide thinking, to engage children in composing multiple representation of their ideas, to engage children in looking back on their experiences, and to debrief children about their learning. Therefore, the greatest challenge associated with implementing this curriculum is allocating the time and resources needed for the professional development of teachers.